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Friday March 16, 4:45 pm Eastern Time

Macaroni and cheese maker Kraft Foods files to go public

WASHINGTON, March 16 (Reuters) – Kraft Foods Inc., whose products include macaroni and cheese and Oscar Mayer hot dogs, announced on Friday it hopes to raise as much as $5 billion in what could be one of the biggest U.S. initial public offerings.

Kraft, a unit of food, beverage and tobacco conglomerate Philip Morris Cos Inc. (NYSE:MO – news), plans to use the net proceeds to pay a port of the $11 billion it owes to Philip Morris, it said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

The exact number of class A common shares and the price range will be revealed in a later filing. Kraft has gone ahead and applied for a New York Stock Exchange listing under the symbol “KFT” (NYSE:KFT – news).

The initial stock sale, whose underwriters include Credit Suisse First Boston and Salomon Smith Barney, could be among the 3 largest U.S. IPOs. The largest so far was last year’s $10 billion offering of AT&T Wireless Group Inc. (NYSE:AWE – news), the wireless telephone arm of AT&T Corp. (NYSE:T – news).

Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE:LU – news) spin-off Agere Systems Inc. is in the process of going public in a deal that could raise as much as $7 billion.

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